Still no books at Limpopo schools

2012-04-21 18:08

Thousands of Limpopo pupils are still without textbooks four months into the school year as the government probes a controversial R320 million textbook tender in the cash-strapped province.

The textbook tender was awarded to EduSolutions, a company controlled by ANC-connected businessmen and former government officials.

Whistle-blower Solly Shitangano, a former general manager for budgets in the Limpopo education department, claimed early this year that the tender was awarded illegally.

The claims have been strongly denied by the Limpopo education department and EduSolutions.

Shitangano gave details of the alleged irregularities to the Public Protector, Premier Cassel Mathale and President Jacob Zuma months before a national government task team took over the running of Limpopo amid a budget crisis last year.

This week Anis Karodia, the national basic education department administrator in Limpopo, confirmed that schools did not have new curriculum textbooks, and that the procurement process had been taken over by the national department.

“It can’t be business as usual in Limpopo when you have certain people under investigation,” said Karodia, referring to EduSolutions.

Karodia refused to comment further, but he stressed that the department was no longer working with the company.

He said he would only discuss the matter after a forensic investigation.

The education department’s Hope Mokgatlhe refused to comment on EduSolutions, but admitted there there was a shortage of textbooks.

“This is caused by the challenges in data available about learner numbers in some schools. The basic education department is working with the province to confirm the credibility of data,” she said.

Publishers contacted by City Press said they had still not received any official orders from the department. A number of publishers said they had sent letters and made calls to the department, but had received no response.

Teachers are struggling to teach without the books.

“Teachers are using copies of the curriculum to teach. We have to improvise,” said Bankuna High School principal Aron Baloyi.

Ronald Moroatshehla, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union’s Limpopo chairperson, said they had asked for a meeting with the department.

EduSolutions’ lawyer, Ian Small-Smith, said: “EduSolutions is not under investigation and we have been and will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities. Books have not yet been delivered because the department has not given us instructions to proceed with the placing of orders. In terms of our contract, we may not place orders unless the department instructs EduSolutions to do so.”

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